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Mid-Season Impressionist Sales: High Demand and Healthy Prices

The continued strength of the middle market for Impressionist and modern art was evident during Sotheby’s and Christie’s recent London sales. At its Olympia saleroom on March 23, Sotheby’s grossed £1.98 million ($3.5 million) for 276 lots offered. The auction was 92 percent sold by value; and 227, or 82 percent, of the works were

NEW YORK—The continued strength of the middle market for Impressionist and modern art was evident during Sotheby’s and Christie’s recent London sales. At its Olympia saleroom on March 23, Sotheby’s grossed £1.98 million ($3.5 million) for 276 lots offered. The auction was 92 percent sold by value; and 227, or 82 percent, of the works were sold. At Christie’s South Kensington on April 5, the sale took £1.4 million ($2.4 million) and was 92 percent sold by value. Of 208 lots offered, 178, or 86 percent, found buyers.

The top lot at Sotheby’s was Pont aux Martigues, 1904, by Charles Camoin (1879-1965). The oil on canvas fetched £153,600 ($267,771), far surpassing the £20,000/30,000 estimate and setting an auction record for the artist.

Paysage de Provence, circa 1931-32, by André Derain, realized £62,400 ($108,782) against an estimated £25,000/35,000; and La ferme de nanse, 1951, by Bernard Buffet, took £50,400, or $87,862 (estimate: £30,000/ 40,000).

Jennie Rose, Sotheby’s specialist in charge of the auction, called the result the highest yet for an Impressionist and modern art sale at Olympia: “There was unprecedented presale interest, and the sale saw strong bidding across the board.” Rose further noted high demand for paintings, explaining that “competitive bidding from private buyers in particular helped to achieve some healthy prices.”

At Christie’s the top lot was Terpischore, 1933, an oil on paper by Nicolai Konstantinovich Kalmakoff (1875-1958) that made £84,000, or $147,672 (estimate: £8,000/12,000). It was followed by Kniendes Menschenpaar, a 1931 bronze by Georg Kolbe (1877-1947) that fetched £50,400, or $88,603 (estimate: £20,000/30,000).

The Ball, an oil on board by Hugó Scheiber (1873-1950), sold for £48,000, or $84,384 (estimate: £20,000/30,000). The same price was achieved for La Danza, 1982, a pencil on paper by Fernando Botero (b. 1932). The work, which had been estimated at £15,000/20,000, was acquired by the private dealership Eykyn Maclean (see ANL, 11/22/05).

Christie’s specialists Gower Williams and Deborah Park point to strong prices for artists from Central and Eastern Europe, like Kalmakoff. “The packed saleroom included many clients who had traveled far from these countries to bid,” they report. “This is a market that continues to grow.”

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